Imagine waking up one day unable to recall who you are or where you came from – only to find you are serving a sentence as a convict conscript for crimes you have no memory of ever committing…
The rotation of Thuringen meant the local daylight and dark cycle matched one and a half Coalition standard days, which meant every third day the ‘City spent in total darkness or total light with a crossover day that saw a noon sunset. In any standard cycle it gave ten days of full darkness. Today happened to be a dark day and when Avilon left his low-grade accommodation, he walked through a drizzle of rain and streets sheened with silver as the wet surface reflected the lighting.
The block, where he had been allocated a one roomed unit, crouched beside one of the main thoroughfares which ran into the suburb. Private transport vehicles – he’d heard called PTVs – were exclusive to the wealthy. For the majority, there were the large public groundcars and those with funds to spare could make use of the fast-to-summon airborne auto-cabs. These, mostly dual-seater vehicles, skimmed past at high speed guided by their AI, leaving any pedestrian glad of the enclosing safety bars which spanned over the walkway, protecting from above and from the street.
Every day so far, since his arrival on Thuringen, unable to afford to hire an auto-cab, Avilon had needed to walk a short distance to the nearest public transport point where he could pick up a ride to his place of work on the far edge of the industrial area in the next sector of the city.That journey to and from work and a single brief foray to the local retail mall to purchase basic essentials, as his block was designated a delivery no-go zone, had so far been the extent of his explorations. He had spent any free time available to him, the time between returning from the plant and sleep, running through the Legion’s restricted-space fitness program. On occasion he had paid the link charge for accessing vidcast channels, or surfing social media and public infolinks, trying to make sense of the strange environment he had been propelled into.
He had also been looking for any trace of Jaz.
He did not have a lot to work with. Jaz had never had much to say about his life before the Specials. Not that it meant he wanted to keep anything about it private from Avilon, more because in the Specials anything anyone ever said was public to the Lattice. It meant you always thought about what you said and had to consider the consequences of whatever you might share. So the few scraps of information Jaz had given him had been precious gifts.
He knew Jaz had a family of his own, a woman and two children – boys – and they lived in Starcity. Jaz once earned his living as a mercenary – a good living, he said. His woman owned and ran a food outlet and Jaz always seemed proud because she served proper cooked food and not cheap, vat-prepared stuff such as they got fed in the Specials, or the more varying qualities of meal-synth productions he understood most people lived on. Whenever they were faced with another tray of something bland and indescribable made from rehydrated nutrient gel, Jaz would always go on about the good food she served there.
Avilon even knew the name of the woman – or part of her name -Tillsa. But no more than that. And in the ‘City, with an estimated total population of somewhere over forty-five million people, trying to find one food outlet with so little to go on, was never going to be easy.
He had made a start a few days before, looking on the local public links. There were around eighteen hundred food outlets listed advertising themselves as serving real food. Most were in large and popular retail zones or entertainment sectors. If he needed to check them all out, one after another, by his own estimation it could take over a year to do so. It occurred to him, the proprietor would probably be either Jaz or his woman. The first assumption led to no possible results – but a search on the name ‘Tillsa’ came up with just two options: a ‘Tillsa’s Place’, listed as being in one of the suburbs and the other with no name, just its address in the spaceport. The one in the port stood nearer his accommodation, but from the way Jaz spoke of it, Avilon had the impression of something more upmarket. So he decided to head to the one further out.